Edward Kritzler: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom--and Revenge
This one's been sitting on my pile of books for months waiting for a window of opportunity to pick it up and read. I'm a few chapters in already and it's not disappointing. The non-fictional account reads smoothly and while the author gives plenty of warning that there is significant speculation involved in the scholarship, his conclusions are plausible. Jewish pirates? I just want to know what there mothers thought.
Benyamin Cohen: My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith
Our most recent book club selection... a great read, humorous, fascinating and thought provoking as the author challenges his traditional Jewish upbringing as he searches for meaning in Judaism through the lens of Christianity... and some off the beaten path Christian practices at that. Well worth the read.
Adin Steinsaltz: The Thirteen Petalled Rose: A Discourse On The Essence Of Jewish Existence And Belief
My rabbi growing up used to love quoting Adin Steinsaltz. We thought he just liked the name, but it turns out the Steinsaltz is one of the great teachers of traditional Judaism in today's world and he does so from the perspective of deep devotion. This early Steinsaltz tome explains Jewish mysticism by someone steeped in Jewish tradition.
Simkha Weintraub, editor: Healing of Soul, Healing of Body: Spiritual Leaders Unfold the Strength & Solace in Psalms
A fascinating look at Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav's prescription of 10 psalms employed for healing. We offer Mi Shebeirach prayers of healing for those in need but there are other traditional passages used for providing comfort. The Psalms have long been considered a source of strength. This work explores the particular psalms offered by the Bratzlaver rebbe as a complete course of treatment for ailments.
Maggie Anton: Rashi's Daughters, Book III: Rachel: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France
The last of the trilogy. A good read and window into the world of Jewish life in Medieval France. Maggie Anton knows her subject inside and out and does justice to the subject matter. It's historical fiction done well. For those familiar with Talmud and the world of Jewish folklore, the novel is especially rich, but apparently still engaging if you're a novice in those areas.
Benjamin Nugent: American Nerd: The Story of My People
We chose this for our book group because the author is coming to speak at Beth Emek, the evening of November 15th. Nugent examines the 'nerd' and how they got that way. Living in a lab city, it's impossible to read this work without looking around seeing some of the personalities he describes.
Edward K. Kaplan: Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972
This fascinating volume chronicles the life of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel through his years in America. One of the great modern theologians, Heschel also contributed actively to the Civil Rights Movement.
Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book
Our last Beth Emek Book Group selection. It's a historical novel inspired by the Sarajevo Haggadah. I enjoyed reading it and recommend it highly. It's also a good book leading into the upcoming festival of Passover with it revolving around a historic Passover Haggadah. Enjoy!
John Steinbeck: East of Eden
The Reform movement's reading list has featured this epic novel by California's own John Steinbeck since the list's inception. We're now reading it for the Beth Emek Book Group.
Robert Bly: Iron John: A Book About Men
I've been rereading Iron John in preparation for the Men's Retreat I'm putting together for the beginning of December. Much time has passed since the book first appeared, but it still speaks well to today's men, many of whom are still trying to figure out what it means to be a man in today's world.
The latest by reggae/rap artist Matisyahu. If you're into reggae or rap you should check this out. It's certainly unique.
The LeeVees: Hanukkah Rocks
The most fun Chanukah album I've listed to in a long time.
Matisyahu: Live at Stubb's
A combination of Reggae and Hip Hop from a practitioner of Chabad Judaism - need I say more!
Beignet Yisrael: Four Jewish Doughnuts in New Orleans
A fun group of two cantors, a cantorial soloist and a rabbi from New Orleans. I hope there will be good reasons to sing Shehecheyanu in New Orleans soon.
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Best of
On the wall in Preservation Hall is a sign that gives the cost of requests: $1 for Traditional songs, $2 for others and $5 for 'Saints.' Not because it's a bad song, quite the opposite. It's the most requested, classic Dixieland piece. I hope the sign is still there right now.